Fernando Alonso may have enjoyed his first running in a Formula 1 car for the first time in over a month today in practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix, but admitted that he does not feel fully fit after so long on the sidelines.
Alonso was hospitalized following an accident during pre-season testing in Barcelona on February 22. After consulting his doctors, the Spaniard missed the first race of the year in Australia to concentrate on his recovery.
However, he was able to return on Friday in Malaysia after passing the rigorous medical assessments set by the FIA, and completed 45 laps behind the wheel of the McLaren MP4-30.
“It feels great to be back in the car,” Alonso said following practice. “I enjoyed driving so much today.
“Maybe I’m not quite 100% fit after two weeks on the sofa and two weeks out of the car, but I’m fit enough to enjoy it out there.”
McLaren has endured a difficult start to the season after switching to Honda power units for 2015. In Australia, Kevin Magnussen failed to make the start of the race following an engine failure en route to the grid, whilst Jenson Button saw the flag in 11th place as the last classified finisher.
For Alonso, the early races in 2015 will all be about testing the car and getting it up to speed instead of instantly fighting at the front of the field.
“Today really feels like the second day of testing for me,” Alonso said. “I had one solid day’s running in Barcelona during the winter, when I did 63 laps, and I managed 45 today. Plus, we ran with zero problems, so that’s an important step, too.
“We are improving the aero package, gaining a greater understanding of the power unit, and we also have better interaction between everyone working on the car. Every lap is a learning curve for us.
“The car feels consistent and easy to drive, and it’s giving me the confidence to push it to the limit. We had some issues with braking consistency today, but we should be able to resolve those overnight. I feel great – I enjoyed today so much.”